A ride through the hills of the Goyt Valley or the Cat and Fiddle climb near Macclesfield is lovely on the eye, but tough on the legs - especially when you are unfit, like me. Instead, the Cheshire Plain is a less onerous alternative.
One route that I like is to ride from Macclesfield via Broken Cross and then down the sweeping country lanes towards Siddington. There is a main road to cross, the A34, after which you arrive in the village of Lower Withington. I have good memories of this area as it's where I did a "lads 'n' lasses" 2-up time trial with the Manchester Wheelers. All I had to do was to ride in the slipstream of a guy who made a big hole in the air for 10 miles. The road was flat and I was shielded from the slightest wind. I wish all time trials were like that! Then we went for a pub meal afterwards at the Red Lion pub. Happy days!
From Lower Withington I find some even quieter roads which lead to the famous observatory at Jodrell Bank. I would have liked to ride a bit closer to the radio telescope but some of the roads shown on my map turned out to be off limits on the bike, so I pressed on with the rest of my ride to other nearby villages.
The best thing was that once I had left the main A535 road there was barely any traffic at all. At one point the road swooped down a lovely twisty descent, below the railway line and I felt like I was just out in my own private world of cycle lanes. Well, my world of Peover and Chelford!
I finally reach "civilisation" in the shape of the Chelford Island - not particularly exotic, it's just an asymmetric roundabout on the Knutsford Road. Soon I'm heading out towards the Chelsea of the North, Alderley Edge. In fact, I don't reach the heart of the Village with its smattering of Mancunian soap opera actors or footballers. I prefer to go properly to the edge - the chalky escarpment that gives views all over Cheshire and beyond.
Escarpment, I hear you cry? I said it is a flat ride, but in fact, dear reader, there is one teeny climb in the ride - Artists Lane. It's a popular climb in the area and often included in cyclosportive events. I said teeny, but in fact, dear reader it goes on for about 10 minutes if you have average fitness.
So, compared to Alpe d'Huez or Tourmalet it is a tiny baby! The only thing is because the road twists you are never quite sure when you are near the top, and that makes it a real slog at the end of your ride. That's exactly how it felt for me, as an unfit forty-something. At least I wasn't alone, for this is a popular road with cyclists - some of whom gave me sympathetic encouragement!
After tea and cake at the Wizard Pub and a quick look at the Cheshire plain panorama it's a nice steady descent back to Macc. Not a bad little leisure ride.
Route map for this ride.